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This blog exists only as an archive. It is a journal that serves as a window into my life as a Marine combat veteran serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was written with no filter, no politics and no agenda. Please feel free to follow my journey from beginning to end. Welcome to my life.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Letter from Team Rubicon Leader, Jake Wood

This is the first opportunity I have had to get on a computer and
write an update to everyone who has made it a point to follow our
wonderful team through this website. I would first like to say,

When this idea first popped in my head I was sitting on the couch
watching the news with my girlfriend. “I should really get down
there,” is all I said. Of course the idea sounded great, but I knew
it was probably outside of my reach. The next day I was in class (I
have begun a simple Micro Econ class at a local college as a refresher
course), and I couldn’t get my mind off the idea. Three phone calls
later I had one man, one random call later I had a second man. 72
hours later I was in the Dominican capital and our team had grown to
8, and we even had a name.

People have designated me the team leader, and I suppose by virtue of
starting this thing I am, but this venture has become so much bigger
than what I initially envisioned. We have men on this mission that
are not only incredible professionals, but incredible human beings. I
have learned more on this mission from the people I am working
alongside, the people I have helped and the people back home, than I
can remember learning in a long time. Allow me to give you a quick

Today, as you can see, we ended up in a hospital. Now let me say
this. All the doctors of the world have converged on Haiti to help.
Where were they? There are only a handful of hospitals operating in
this city, can yet a rag tag group of “self deployers” bring a carful
of critically wounded people to it and find it nearly void of adequate
medical professionals. So what did we do? We adapted to our
environment and plugged the holes. Dr, Griswell’s performance today
will forever be etched in my memory. But here’s the story.

A woman is brought in in horrible condition. She is being carried,
she has lesions and open sores all over her body, her legs are
mangled, and she is obviously in a reduced mental state. Dr. Griswell
states, be careful, we have an apparent advanced stage AIDS patient
here. I grimaced, the words hit me like a punch in the stomach. But
what do you do? You’re here to help. What I did was put on an extra
pair of surgical gloves. Not sure that would help, but it soothed my

Doc Army (Mark) told me to begin removing her clothes so we could get
an accurate assessment of her condition. I had no tools available, so
I reached to my belt and pulled out my combat knife. It served me in
Afghanistan, and it served me here. I began cutting her clothes away,
and I was disgusted with what I saw as her clothes came off. I looked
at Mark. He pulled her dress up around her hip, we both paused. Her
entire hip/pelvic bone was protruding through the skin. Mark said,
“She’s expectant”. That’s military lingo for “on her death bed,
nothing more we can do”. I began to move away, thinking in my mind,
okay lets leave her to die, not waste our time.

About ten minutes later I crossed past the bed again to get some
gauze. What I saw astounded me. Griswell was laying on the gurney
between her legs, attempting to insert a cather. To give her a shot
at a death with dignity. It blew my mind. She had sores all over her
body and genitalia, yet there he was, refusing to allow her to pass as
nothing but an after thought. That’s when Mark chimed in, “You know,
if it weren’t for this disaster, she’d die in the streets, alone, cold
and in pain. It took this catastrophe to bring someone to this
country that cares about her comfort enough to do this.”

After ten minutes of trying, Griswell finally had to give up, knowing
that the canal had shrunk too much to allow the cathater, and knowing
that by continuing to open these lesions he was causing her more pain.
Frustrated, he finally back off and with sadness told her, “I’m
sorry, I can’t do it.”

She simply, weakly, smiled and nodded. At least he cared enough to try.

Jake Wood, Team Leader, Team Rubicon

Jake Wood


  1. Jake.

    Sitting here absolutely 100% humbled by the commitment of you and your team, with tears in my eyes. I'm sending prayers your way right now. And shortly after I post this, I'm going to go crawl into my bed next to our 7mon old daughter and hug her. Someday, she'll know about the men and women who serve this country, _and_ others like you have.

    Godspeed Team Rubicon,

  2. I have followed you through two deployments, but this "self deployment" has moved me like no other. You are a hero.

  3. What Bag Blog said! I prayed for you through those two deployments, and I'm praying for you now. May God keep you, and the wonderful people with you, safe from any harm.